Lake Co. judge rules state’s right to work law unconstitutional

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LAKE COUNTY – A Lake County judge ruled Indiana’s right to work law unconstitutional.

The lawsuit was filed by the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150. The union claimed the law violated Article 1, Section 21 of the state’s Constitution, which says “no person’s particular services shall be demanded without just compensation.”

Local 150 argued the right to work law is unconstitutional because it makes it illegal for unions to collect fees for services they are federal required to provide.

In the decision. Judge John M. Sedia of Lake Superior Court said the law makes it “a criminal offense for a union to receive just compensation for particular services federal law demands it provide to employees.” Sedia concluded that, “the Court therefore has no choice but to find that [the laws] violate Article 1, Section 21 of the Indiana Constitution.”

Indiana became the 23rd state to ban the collection of mandatory fees for representation from unions. The law prompted a walkout during the 2011 legislative session, when Democratic leaders left the state to prevent its passage. Since being passed in Indiana, unions have worked through the court system to get it overturned.

“This is a victory for the middle class,” said Local 150 president-business manager James M. Sweeney.

The AFL-CIO released the following statement to its members:

Brothers and Sisters,

The Superior Court in Lake County has ruled that Indiana’s falsely labeled right-to-work law violates the state’s constitution – a victory for working families across Indiana and around the nation.

According to the judge’s ruling Indiana’s right-to-work law violates a provision in our state constitution barring the state from requiring a person’s services “without just compensation.”

And while we are overjoyed that this unsafe, unfair and unnecessary law that was rammed through the Indiana General Assembly has been ruled unconstitutional, the fight is not over.

The State of Indiana, through the office of the Indiana Attorney General, will now have the right to appeal the ruling – and the right-to-work law remains in effect until any appeal is concluded.

Regardless of the appeal or what happens next, the working families of Indiana will not rest until it’s off the books altogether …again.

In Solidarity,
Nancy Guyott
President, Indiana AFL-CIO

An appeal of the ruling would go directly to the Indiana Supreme Court.

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